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excel – Solution for Deploying & Updating Document Level VSTO Addin Including the Document

Posted by: admin April 23, 2020 Leave a comment


Do any of you have advice on methods for deploying an office VSTO addin, especially Excel, that makes it easy to update and deploy the document as well as the addin.

I have a document level addin for Excel 2010 that I created using VSTO. I currently deploy it using click once. However, this has a few problems. The first problem is that I publish it to ftp then users install it from my website. Since the document and addin are downloaded from the internet, I obviously have trouble getting proper permission for the addin to run and the document to be trusted. Currently I just have users manually adjust permissions and grant access when the solution is installed. That part works and is fine, but if any of you have suggestions on how to automate this that would be great.

The second problem, the main one I am wanting help with in this post, is deploying updates. I generally like using clickonce because of its ease of installation and automatic update features. The solutions I develop are used in rapidly growing fast changing companies, which means I am often making updates. Click once makes it easy enough to update the “code” or addin itself. I just have it automatically check for updates when it is started, and if there are updates it will prompt the user to download them. But what about the document? My solution doesn’t only include the code. It also includes the highly customized Excel workbook.

When the solution is initially installed a copy of the workbook is just downloaded to the local computer. But what about after it is deployed to dozens of computers? Does a document level change (adding a column for example) mean going to each computer and downloading the updated workbook manually?

Surely there is a better way to automatically deploy updated versions of the workbook. Any suggestions?

Here are a few ideas I thought of:

  • Use some installer other than clickonce. Any suggestion on one that allows easy automatic updates?
  • Somehow package the workbook as an application resource. I have actually done this in some situations, but not in cases where the document itself included a VSTO addin.
  • Related to the previous idea. Make a “wrapper” project that includes the workbook & VSTO addin. Then the addin would be launched by clicking on a regular icon on the desktop, which would download the workbook (if an update was needed) then open it in Excel. I would prefer that method of launch over simply opening the workbook anyway.

Note: No user data needs to be preserved in the Workbook when an update is done. The old version could simply be overwritten by the new one. The workbook gets all its data from an SQL server.

How to&Answers:

You could use a Visual Studio Setup Project which leverages Windows Installer. See this deployment walkthrough guide on using VSTO 4.0.

In Visual Studio 2012, support for Setup Projects is being deprecated in favor of InstallShield LE which is another alternative.